Flirting vs. True Attraction

When men and women spend a lot of time around one another, flirting becomes a means of communication and entertainment that can make everyday interactions more fun and exciting.

Just like other interpersonal activities, though, each person flirts and accepts flirtation differently. While some people flirt constantly, others reserve this affectionate type of interaction for expressing genuine feelings that extend beyond friendship.

Either way, it can sometimes seem impossible to differentiate between flirting vs. true attraction. If there are true feelings behind the flirting, it’s important to be able to recognize them in order to avoid any awkward or destructive situations. Sometimes a flicker of the eye or a brush on the arm can reveal volumes about the underlying relationship. Read on for tips on how to read her flirtatious activities and figure out if her interest extends beyond playfulness.

Level of Attention

Flirtation that’s just flirtation will tend to be flippant and fun. Friends who don’t harbor a real attraction for one another will play, and then move on to the next thing. They have nothing invested because there are no feelings involved. If a gesture or a touch is prolonged, however, it could mean that she’s trying to get your attention to push things farther than the status quo. When flirtation is exaggerated like this, it could also mean she’s enjoying it so much that she doesn’t want to let you slip away, which is also an indication that there’s something else behind it. There is a fine defining line between these two levels of play, and people tend to differ on what they expect of flirtation, but you’ll likely notice if somebody gives you this extra bit of attention.


Some women are just flirty. If she’s scooting around giving everybody in the vicinity a wink and a nudge, there’s likely nothing special in the look she throws your way. In other words, if she uses casual flirting vs. true affection, there’s probably nothing more behind it. If, on the other hand, she pays special attention to you, there’s a good chance you’ve been singled out for a reason. If it’s not in her nature to flirt with just anybody, she may be trying to communicate how she really feels about you. Used this way, flirtation is a way to feel you out before putting herself on the line.


The key to friendly flirtation is lightheartedness and subtlety. Two people who flirt often will likely have a rhythm to their interactions; it’s like a routine. This type of play has underlying and unsaid boundaries that maintain a friendly feel. If her flirting suddenly becomes more intense, however, it could indicate deeper feelings.

For example, during your regular banter about relationships, she might start singling you out as the ideal man. Or she might start surpassing your regular physical boundaries by putting her hand on your leg or your hand when she’s sitting beside you. If her actions become more serious or obvious, you may have an admirer on your hands. This is a good way to tell if she's flirting vs. true attraction.

Eye Contact

Eye language is a very important indicator of the feelings between two individuals; it's a great way to tell the difference between flirting vs. true affection. Think of how you interact with your friends, male or female. Most of the time, eye contact is made during face-to-face conversation, but it is casual and frequently broken over the course of the exchange. If she makes prolonged and sustained eye contact, on the other hand, it could mean that something beyond friendship is afoot. Another indicator is if she mirrors your body language while you talk, extending the sense of closeness you both feel.

These types of actions — whether they’re performed consciously or not — could mean that she’s trying to catch your eye in a romantic sense. She’s probably hoping you’ll notice her as something more than a fun friend.

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Flirtation is something that’s fun and entertaining, but if it isn’t serious, it usually passes with time. Because there are no true feelings wrapped up in the friendly sort of flirting, a “love’ em and leave ’em” rule tends to govern these actions. If, on the other hand, the two of you have been flirting consistently for an extended period of time and it’s not waning, it’s possible that there are deeper feelings behind it.

Think back on how your relationship has evolved. Is she still seeking you out after you’ve moved to new flirting grounds? If so, it’s likely that she’s trying to linger in this type of activity until she can get her real feelings of attraction across. Not only can this indicate existing feelings of interest, but prolonged flirtation with a single person can also lead to them, so tread carefully in both instances.


Flirting involves a broad range of activities, from conversation and mockery to gestures and touch. These actions can either be playful or extend to a more personal level. If flirtation began at — or has progressed to — a more intimate level than most friendships, you can take a hint that there’s probably more to it.

For instance, conversation between friends can get flirty, but if she tells you personal things or asks you questions that reach a more emotional level, she’s probing beyond the scope of friendship, and it’s likely that she’s interested in pursuing a relationship. This is a good test of whether she's flirting vs. true attraction. Likewise, if you go beyond an arm brush to holding hands or hugging, you have reached the next emotional level, which can indicate interest beyond friendship alone.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

It’s hard to create solid definitions of what constitutes flirting vs. real affection because it is so subjective, but if it is progressive or ongoing, it’s likely an indication of true attraction.

Whether flirting is just friendly or it hides other feelings, it’s important to recognize the true nature of it. If the romance is one-sided or inappropriate, it’s a good idea to shut down the flirtation before it becomes difficult to deal with.